The Wizards watched a 27-point second half lead disintegrate to just four but in the end they held off the Cavs, 98-91 to get revenge for the Cavs' overtime victory in DC. The Wizards certainly did not want to let this one become a game but in the end the important thing is coming away from the game with their second win in as many nights. For the second night in a row, the Wizards were perfect from the free throw line, this time going 14-14, making it 29-29 over the last two games. Washington's starters accounted for 88 of the Wizards' 98 points while Cleveland's starters other than Irving had just seven points. For most of the game, the Wizards showcased some of their best ball movement of the year and finished with 31 assists on 38 made baskets. Beal led the way with 26 points, including tying his career high with 6 made threes. Nene and Wall both filled up the box score, with Nene finishing with 24 points, 8 boards and 6 assists. Wall had 15 points, 9 assists and 4 steals. Irving led all scorers in the ballgame with 28 points. - Jacob Raim
If the Wizards want to take that next step and be a playoff team this year, they'll need to start winning games like tonight as they take on a 4-7 Cavs team at the Q in Cleveland.
Good teams find a way to grind out road wins on the second night of a back-to-back, and I still believe that this Wizards bunch is a good team, despite their 3-7 start.
They took a step in the right direction last night, making the key plays late in the game to get a big home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. After Monday's practice, they talked a lot about closing teams out and winning those "last four minutes" of the game. It's one thing to talk about it, but to actually do it the next night shows that they were serious about buckling down.
Read Jacob Raim's piece, #WizWolves Second Half Magic, for more on the Wizards come-from-behind win last night.
Rematch With the Cavs
It was just four days ago that the Wizards hosted the Cavs at Verizon Center. The Wizards built a 15 point first half lead and were in command for most of the game, but their late game execution cost them a home win and the Cavs snuck away with an overtime victory.
Tonight, the Wizards get a chance to redeem themselves and return the favor as now they are the ones playing both on the road and on the second night of a back-to-back.
To win tonight, they'll need to play the kind of defense they showed in the second half of last night's #WizWolves game, where they were aggressive, alert, and opportunistic. The starters logged heavy minutes last night, so they may look to get some more contributions from some of their role guys in tonight's battle.
The second unit has been a carousel of different combinations so far, but Jan Vesely has really provided a spark over the past couple games and his confidence seems to be growing with each strong performance.
He talked with Casey Phillips today in Cleveland about his play and tonight's game:
On the injury front, Trevor Ariza (hamstring) and Al Harrington (knee) are both questionable to play, but unless they feel significantly better than yesterday, it's unlikely either will be available. We'll see who steps up in their place tonight. *5:40pm UPDATE: Both are out tonight*
It was Kyrie Irving who put on a show in the final quarter and overtime period on Saturday night and the Wizards will need to try and keep him in check tonight. He's a star, so he'll have games like that, but expect Wall and his help D to really focus in on Irving tonight as they force the other Cavs to beat them.
Dion Waiters, who missed Saturday's game with the flu, is expected to be back in the lineup tonight, though it's unclear if he'll start. He can be dangerous offensively, though he's a bit of a wildcard and can be forced into taking tough shots. Look for Beal to bait him into some of these tough looks.
The Cavs have not played since their last game in Washington on Saturday, so this is a pseudo home-and-home series for them.
The Live Chat kicks off at 7pm, we'll see you there! #WizCavs